Psychological problems often affect the whole family. In these cases, it may become necessary to seek counseling together. Services such as conflict resolution, family grief counseling, and marriage counseling are sometimes necessary to keep balance within a family. By receiving treatment as a family, relationships are improved and loved ones coordinate as a team to find solutions. Problems arise in most families and a mental health professional could be the key to love and happiness for years to come.
Are you searching for a “family therapy near me”?
At Bregman Medical Group, we understand the different challenges that families go through, and help them overcome these challenges. Located in Coral Gables, Florida, our team of psychiatrists provides various mental health services including marriage counseling and family therapy. We also offer a Telepsychiatry (online) service that is HIPPA compliant and available nationwide.
If you need family counseling, we can help you!
Request an appointment with a licensed mental health counselor today.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy (family counseling) is part of counseling psychology and is a type of psychotherapy that specializes in helping families overcome and manage specific problems within the family. It includes the nuclear family or stepfamily, and may also include extended family members. Family counseling usually starts with a psychiatrist helping to address a specific problem presented by the family members but as the sessions progress, more issues are identified.
Family therapy is based on the Family Systems Theory where the family is seen as an emotional system and each member has their own roles to play. Roles and interactions in the family affect its individual members. So, when there are problems that cause stress and dysfunction in the family, one must assess the whole unit rather than just one individual.
When is family counseling needed?
It is normal for all families to encounter different challenges throughout their lives, but when these challenges or changes in the family become too much, it can affect how the family functions, and the mental health of the members.
You may consider family counseling when you are experiencing the situations or life events below:
- Suffering from trauma in the family (such as accidents, death of a loved one, experiencing calamities)
- When there is remarriage or forming of stepfamilies involved
- Divorce or separation that is also affecting your kids
- When a family member is diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as anxiety and depression (especially in children)
- When a family member is diagnosed with a severe physical illness
- Moving to a different place or country
- When a conflict in marriage is causing great distress to you or your partner (such as infidelity)
- Parents with child issues in their school or family life
- Stress at work that is affecting your family
What are the types of family therapy?
There are many types of family therapy to choose from depending on the issue or concern that your family wishes to address. While some therapists stick to one technique, some also use an eclectic approach where they take therapeutic techniques from several types of family therapy to fit the concerns of each family. Below are some of the common types of family therapy:
Structural Family Therapy
Structural therapy is one of the most common types of therapy being used today. Using structural therapy, the counselor focuses on how the family is structured as a whole rather than the individual. They focus on the present behaviors and problems rather than the past. They observe the way family members interact with one another and then help them adapt ways to improve on how they communicate and relate to each other.
During a session, family counselors “join” the family. They may ask family members to describe how they perceive their family dynamics, rules, and their roles in the family. From the information gathered, counselors then map out specific patterns of behavior that may be causing problems within the family dynamics and they also look at stressors from a social context.
Structural family therapy (SFT) can be a great help to stepfamilies who are adjusting to their new roles and family dynamics; SFT is also beneficial to families who underwent traumatic experiences because it allows them to communicate their thoughts and feelings with one another and deal with the trauma as a whole unit rather than individually. SFT is also used for families with members who are diagnosed with a physical or mental disorder.
Strategic Family Therapy
Using strategic family therapy, the therapist assumes a position of power in a way that he or she actively initiates what will happen during the therapy session, and designs specific interventions for the problem. Strategic family therapy is a more brief and directive approach. It can be as brief as 8 to 16 sessions, and the psychiatrist usually provides tasks or ‘homeworks’ that families can do beyond the therapy session focusing on how the family can adjust with each other and improve how they communicate with each other.
Supportive Family Therapy
As the name suggests, supportive family therapy is all about creating a safe and supportive environment for all family members. The therapist encourages family members to freely talk about their thoughts and feelings regarding concerns in the family. The therapist helps members to recognize and acknowledge that each person has their own needs and can also provide emotional support to other family members.
Psychoeducation is when family members learn together about specific mental health conditions. By knowing the cause, medication, and treatment of mental health disorders, families are better equipped to support one another and practice self-help techniques. Psychoeducation also helps to lessen the stigmatization of mental health disorders within the family.
Systemic Family Therapy
Systemic family therapy is another type of family therapy that also aims to help how couples, parents, children, and other family members relate to one another by looking at the systems of interactions between them. This type of family therapy aims to identify any deep-seated patterns of behavior and communication between family members so the family can improve unhealthy patterns and work towards resolving their conflict. When issues are presented, therapists view them in the context of the family system rather than on the individual.
Every family is different and has its own ways of coping. If you are considering family therapy, you can start by reaching out to a licensed psychologist.
How can therapists help?
Depending on the family concern, a family counselor can help discover more effective ways for families to cope and interact together. Counselors create an environment where families can communicate their feelings freely, and make them improve ways to handle family stressors by understanding themselves and each family member better.
During the first therapy session, you may expect your counselor to establish rapport with you and your family by getting to know each family member. As the sessions progress, counselors may facilitate role-playing activities, give tasks to family members to do during their free time, help create a safe environment to encourage family members to speak out, and eventually improve their relationships.
What are the benefits of family psychotherapy?
Family psychotherapy can be very helpful for families undergoing major life changes and experiencing conflicts. Counseling can help family members identify problematic patterns of behavior within the family, and provide healthier strategies for dealing with conflict, as well as in communicating and interacting with each other.
Counseling can also help families develop new coping skills, especially during difficult circumstances affecting their family life.
It is important to understand that family therapy does not work like a one-time fix for a problem to go away, but when families continually work together - and with the new skills and communication techniques learned by family members - therapy can significantly improve your relationship with the family over time.
Communication between families and couples
Having good communication is at the heart of every good relationship; and oftentimes, families and couples who come to family therapy sessions struggle with communication issues at home. When communication is not improved, it may give rise to conflicts and misunderstandings between family members.
There can be many reasons that contribute to communication difficulties within the family. These factors can be due to cultural differences, age, different personal experiences, having poor physical or mental health, having prejudices and stereotypes, keeping too many secrets, having poor listening skills, experiencing trauma and stress.
It is also important to note that people have different communication styles. They can be assertive, aggressive, passive, and passive-aggressive.
Aggressive communication is when a person expresses his thoughts and feelings without consideration of other people’s rights. People who use the aggressive communication style have a tendency to be verbally abusive to others. They convey their opinions clearly, but they talk in a loud, demanding voice, and they try to dominate or intimidate others. For this reason, people who adopt an aggressive communication style are difficult to be around.
Passive communication is when a person would rather keep his thoughts and feelings to himself rather than speak about them with the other person, making him look indifferent and submissive to others.
Passive-aggressive communication is when a person looks passive on the outside but actually feels anger and resentment on the inside. Instead of confronting the issue, they behave indirectly in anger - they may talk behind the person’s back or deliberately ignore them.
Assertive communication is the best and most effective way to communicate. When you are assertive, you are clear and direct about what you want to say, and you can talk about your opinion and beliefs to others without stepping or violating other people’s rights. This is the most recommended way of communicating with others to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings.
During family therapy, your therapist will be able to help you and your family members work on your communication styles and help you learn how to communicate better through guided activities.
Aside from that, here are some practices that you might want to apply on your own to have better communication with your family or spouse:
Avoid using condescending tone and insults
Listen to the other person’s needs carefully
Speak in a clear and concise manner
Aim to develop a good relationship between you and the other person before talking about difficult topics
Be open to constructive criticism
When expressing your feelings, stick to talking about how you feel rather than the characteristics of the other person
Frequently Asked Questions
How effective is family therapy?
An integrative review and analysis about the different research for effectiveness of family therapies shows that families who undergo family therapy experience more positive effects compared with families who have no treatment and other alternative treatment.
Furthermore, there is evidence that shows telehealth (online) family therapy offers the same efficacy with face to face family therapy.
How long does family therapy last?
There is no definite timeline as to how long family therapy should last. But generally, therapy does not take too long (12 sessions on average). The length of therapy will also depend on the issues presented and the cooperation and participation of all family members.
How are family therapists trained?
A licensed marriage and family therapist undergoes years of education and relevant experience to qualify. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree, one must earn a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy or a related mental health field, complete a doctoral program, as well as complete post-graduate clinical training and supervised experience. A family therapist then applies for state licensure to practice counseling.
In addition to having a license to practice, family therapists may also be accredited by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) or other professional organizations.
What is Telehealth (online therapy) for family therapy?
Telehealth therapy is an option for families to be able to meet with their psychiatrists or family counselors online. This means that sessions can be done through the use of a video or audio conference depending on the mutual agreement between the psychiatrist and the family on what works best for them. With online therapy, psychiatrists can provide the same therapeutic services to their patients despite not meeting face-to-face.
Family Therapy in Coral Gables, Florida
At Bregman Medical Group, we offer family therapy to help you and your family identify and resolve concerns together. Overcoming challenges within the family can be taxing, but we can help make it easier for you. We accept appointments for both existing and new patients. If you have questions, our staff can assist you.